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Prep for Game 1! News and notes to know from NBC Sports Research

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A host of news and notes as Chicago and Boston prepare for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tonight (watch 8 p.m. ET on NBC and live online).

PLAYOFF HISTORY

  • 7th postseason meeting (BOS won 5 of previous 6 series, leads )
  • 1927 NHL Quarterfinals (Blackhawks’ 1st NHL season) – BOS won on goal differential in 2 games
  • 1942 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 3 (best-of-3)
  • 1970 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … BOS later won Cup
  • 1974 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 6 (best-of-7)
  • 1975 NHL Preliminary Round – CHI won in 3 (best-of-3) … April 11, 1975, last CHI postseason win vs. BOS
  • 1978 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … April 23, 1978, last postseason meeting
  • Blackhawks (58th postseason appearance, 12th Cup Final appearance – won in 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010)
  • Bruins (68th postseason appearance, 19th Cup Final appearance – won in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)

DID NOT MEET DURING 2012-13 REGULAR SEASON

  • Last meeting at the United Center: October 15, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-2 in shootout)
  • Last meeting at TD Garden: March 29, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-0)
  • Jaromir Jagr (BOS) is the only player on either team who has faced his team’s Stanley Cup Final opponent during the 2012-13 regular season. His Dallas Stars lost to the Blackhawks on Jan. 24 (3-2 loss) and Mar. 16 (8-1 loss), both at Dallas

FROM TEAMMATES TO RIVALS

International
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (CHI) & Patrice Bergeron (BOS) were teammates on gold medal-winning Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver … Bergeron also became a Stanley Cup champion on the same ice (Rogers Arena) in 2011 … Toews & Bergeron are the two most recent members of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic & World gold medals) … Jaromir Jagr has also won all three major hockey titles, with the Penguins & Czech Republic
Zdeno Chara (BOS), Marian Hossa & Michal Handzus (CHI) were teammates on Slovakia in 2010.

NHL
Zdeno Chara (2001-06), Wade Redden (1996-2008), Chris Kelly (2003-Feb. 2011), Marian Hossa (1997-2004) and Ray Emery (2002-08) were all teammates on Senators … Redden, Kelly & Emery played on losing side in 2007 Stanley Cup Final
Shawn Thornton (BOS) played first 31 NHL games with Blackhawks (2002-06), was teammates with Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford (CHI) in 2005-06 … Thornton played four seasons with AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals (2001-06), was teammates with Keith for two seasons (2003-05) and Seabrook (2004-05) and Crawford (2005-06) for one each
Jaromir Jagr (BOS) & Michal Rozsival (CHI) were teammates on Penguins (1999-2001), Rangers (2005-07) and gold medal-winning Czech Republic at 2010 IIHF World Championships
Johnny Oduya (CHI) played rookie season (2006-07) under Claude Julien (BOS) with the Devils before the latter was fired by GM Lou Lamoriello with three games remaining in the season … Oduya was also teammates with Jay Pandolfo (BOS) from 2006-10
Johnny Boychuk (BOS) played four games under Joel Quenneville (CHI) with Avs in 2007-08
Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) were teammates on Panthers in 2009-10
Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus (CHI) & Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) were teammates on Flyers 2002-06
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Dan Carcillo (CHI) were teammates on Coyotes in 2006-07
Johnny Oduya (CHI) & Rich Peverley (BOS) were teammates on Thrashers from 2009-Feb. 2011 Rich Peverley (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) were teammates on Predators in 2006-07 and AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals from 2005-07
Joel Quenneville (CHI) & Doug Jarvis (BOS) were teammates on Hartford Whalers from 1985-88

Europe
Patrick Kane (CHI, 13 G, 23 P in 20 GP) & Tyler Seguin (BOS, 25 G, 40 P in 29 GP) were teammates on EHC Biel of the Swiss National League A during the 2012-13 NHL lockout
Viktor Stalberg (CHI, 3 G, 10 P in 14 GP) & Anton Khudobin (BOS, 2.97 GAA, 1 SO in 26 GP) were teammates on HC Atlant Mytishchi of the Russian KHL during the 2012-13 NHL lockout … Ray Emery (CHI) also played for Atlant after leaving the NHL for one season (2008-09), as did Chris Bourque (BOS), in 2010-11
Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) all came through Kladno program in Czech Republic … Jagr & Krejci were teammates on the 2010 Czech Olympic team
Zdeno Chara (BOS) & Marian Hossa (CHI) came through Trencin program in Slovakia
Minors Michal Rozsival (CHI) & Andrew Ference (BOS) – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL) in 2000-01
Chris Kelly (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) – Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) in 2001-02
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Patrick Sharp (CHI) – Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) 2002-05 … won Calder Cup together in 2005

Juniors
Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin (CHI) all came up through U.S. Development Program
Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland (CHI) and Chris Kelly (BOS) all played junior hockey with the London Knights (OHL) … Bolland was on the Dale Hunter-led squad that won the Memorial Cup in 2005
Brad Marchand (BOS) & Corey Crawford (CHI) – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) in 2004-05
Andrew Shaw (CHI) & Dougie Hamilton (BOS) – Niagara IceDogs (OHL) in 2009-10
Matt Bartkowski (BOS), Brandon Bollig & Jimmy Hayes (CHI) – Lincoln Stars (USHL)

AMERICAN-BORN PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Patrick Kane – Buffalo
Brandon Saad – Pittsburgh
Nick Leddy – Eden Prairie, MN
Brandon Bollig – St. Charles, MO
Ben Smith – Winston-Salem, NC

Bruins
Torey Krug – Livonia, MI
Matt Bartkowski – Pittsburgh
Jay Pandolfo – Winchester, MA
Carter Camper – Rocky River, OH
Chris Bourque – Boston

UNIVERSITY PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Jimmy Hayes (Boston College – 09,10,11)
Ben Smith (Boston College – 07,08,09,10)
Duncan Keith (Michigan State – 02,03)
Nick Leddy (Minnesota – 10)
Jonathan Toews (North Dakota – 06,07)
Brandon Pirri (RPI – 10)
Brandon Bollig (St. Lawrence – 09,10)
Patrick Sharp (Vermont – 01,02)
Viktor Stalberg (Vermont – 07,08,09)
Jamal Mayers (Western Michigan – 93,94,95,96)

Bruins
Chris Bourque (Boston University – 05)
Jay Pandolfo (Boston University – 93,94,95,96)
Bob Essensa (Michigan State – 84,85,86,87)
Torey Krug (Michigan State – 10,11,12)
Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State – 09,10)
Rich Peverley (St. Lawrence – 01,02,03,04)

PREVIOUS STANLEY CUP WINNERS

with 2010 Blackhawks (8 players of 21, 2 coaches):
Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews (captain, Conn Smythe winner), Joel Quenneville (head coach), Stephane Waite (asst)
with other franchises (1 coach):
Jamie Kompon (asst, 2012 Kings)

with 2011 Bruins (17 players of 21, 4 coaches):
Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara (captain), Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Claude Julien (head coach), Doug Houda (asst), Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward (asst), Bob Essensa (asst)
with other franchises (4 players, 1 coach):
Jaromir Jagr (1991, 1992 Penguins), Jay Pandolfo (2000, 2003 Devils), Shawn Thornton (with 2007 Ducks), Doug Jarvis (1976-79 Canadiens as player; 1999 Stars as asst coach)

SEEKING 1ST STANLEY CUP

Blackhawks

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (15 players, 1 coach):
Bryan Bickell (name not etched), Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford, Ray Emery (back-up goalie), Michael Frolík, Michal Handzuš, Marcus Krüger, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsíval, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Viktor Stålberg, Mike Kitchen (asst)

Bruins

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (6 players):
Matt Bartkowski, Kaspars Daugaviņš, Dougie Hamilton, Anton Khudobin (back-up goalie), Torey Krug, Wade Redden

It’s New York Rangers Day at PHT

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the New York Rangers.

2018-19
32-36-8, 78 points (7th in the Metropolitan Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference)
Playoffs: Did not qualify

IN:
Artemi Panarin
Jacob Trouba
Kaapo Kakko
Adam Fox
Greg McKegg

OUT: 
Neal Pionk
Kevin Hayes
Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey
Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan Spooner
Fredrik Claesson
Connor Brickley

RE-SIGNED:
Pavel Buchnevich

2018-19 Summary

It was understood going into this past season in the Big Apple that by the end of it, the New York Rangers would be on the outside looking in.

A sell-off during the end of the 2017-18 season pointed to a re-build that would likely take a couple of seasons to fully mature.

And thus, the on-ice product for the Rangers was much less about winning games as it was about putting some of their young guns in positions to grow.

Alexandar Georgiev, for instance, was given 30 starts between the pipes as the Rangers let Henrik Lundqvist‘s heir-apparent get well-acquainted with the No. 1 spot he will one day own.

He showed well on a poor team, with the 23-year-old posting a respectable .914 save percentage.

Others, too, were given a chance to develop. The likes of Pavel Buchnevich, 24, Tony DeAngelo, 23, Filip Chytil, 19, and Lias Andersson, 20, saw significant action.

Everything was following the simple stream that is a slow rebuilding process. Well, at least until June.

In June, the Rangers found out they’d be picking second overall in the 2019 NHL Draft after moving up four spots from the six-best odds at the draft lottery. Welcome, Kaapo Kakko.

They’d acquire the rights to Jacob Trouba (and eventually sign the blue line stalwart to a seven-year deal.)

And then July 1 came and Artemi Panarin was handed $81 million over the next seven years.

The rebuild that was rolling along at a typical methodical pace suddenly slammed into sixth gear. The Rangers now added a bona fide superstar forward, a potential superstar forward and a top-pairing defenseman to the mix.

General manager Jeff Gorton wasn’t messing around, announcing his intentions to the rest of the league with his wallet open wide.

So now, the Rangers have smashed the fast-forward button. There’s no talk anymore about another growing season. Instead, the narrative has shifted to a team that could compete for a playoff spot at minimum, especially if Lundqvist can bounce back and retain his crown as ‘King’ in one final hurrah in his storied career.

The Rangers have kept pace with the New Jersey Devils and their own aggressive summer. The Metro is quite the division — perhaps the best in hockey — and the Rangers should be right back in the mix in 2019-20.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Aho reveals offer-sheet decision; Ristolainen to Red Wings?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Sebastian Aho reveals why he signed an offer sheet from the Canadiens. (Sportsnet)

• NHL farm system rankings: Best, worst prospect pipelines for 2019-20, from 1 to 31. (The Sporting News)

• Should the Red Wings trade for Rasmus Ristolainen? (The Hockey Writers)

Matthew Tkachuk‘s agent says they gave the Flames a fair offer back in June. (Sportsnet)

• Overlooked teams in fantasy for 2019-20. (NHL.com)

• The All-Decade Team for all 31 NHL teams. (ESPN)

• Breaking down the format for a potential 2021 World Cup of Hockey. (Sportsnet)

T.J. Oshie is healthy and ready to take another run at the Stanley Cup. (NHL.com)

• When adding staffers, NHL Seattle must navigate complex minefield with those currently under contract elsewhere. (Seattle Times)

• Once healthy, Shea Weber’s value to the Canadiens remained high. (Eyes on the Prize)

• Who are the biggest Penguin killers in the NHL today? (Pensburgh)

• NHL “nowhere near a resolution” on allowing players to compete at 2022 Winter Olympics. (Inside the Games)

• NHL teams as dog breeds: The complete list of hockey dogs. (FanSided)

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NHL Free agent roundup: Islanders re-sign two RFAs; Nichushkin joins Avalanche

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It didn’t involve any of the big names that are still unsigned, but there was some movement on the NHL’s restricted free agent front on Monday afternoon thanks to the New York Islanders, while the Colorado Avalanche took a gamble on an intriguing unrestricted free agent.

Let’s take a look at the signings.

Islanders re-sign Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle

The Islanders reached deals with two of their remaining RFAs when they announced new deals for forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle.

Dal Colle’s contract is a two-year deal, while Ho-Sang gets a one-year deal that will probably be a make-or-break season for him with the Islanders.

Anthony Beauvillier remains the Islanders’ only unsigned RFA at this point in the offseason.

Ho-Sang is the intriguing one here because he has such enormous potential but has not yet put everything together in the NHL or earned the trust of the organization. If he manages to do all of that he could be a huge X-factor for the Islanders this season.

He has 24 points in 53 career games at the NHL level.

The 23-year-old Dal Colle appeared in 28 games for the Islanders this past season, scoring three goals to go with four assists.

Avalanche get Nichushkin

After spending two years in the KHL, Valeri Nichushkin returned to the NHL for the 2018-19 season and signed a two-year, $5.9 million contract with the Dallas Stars.

It proved to be a disappointing and uneventful deal for both sides. He failed to score a goal in 57 games while recording just 10 total assists. His contract was bought out by the Stars following the season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

On Monday, he signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche with the hopes that he can bounce back.

Nichushkin’s 2018-19 season was one of the most bizarre seasons in league history as he became the first player to ever play at least 50 games in a season while scoring zero goals and recording zero penalty minutes.

After a promising rookie season back in 2013-14, Nichushkin’s development offensively has completely stalled, resulting in just nine goals and 31 assists in 144 NHL games. He is a fine defensive forward but has not shown any ability to make much of an impact with the puck.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Barzal is Islanders’ game-changer

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the New York Islanders.

The New York Islanders have their share of questions entering the 2019-20 season but there is one thing they can be sure of — they have one of the game’s most exciting young players and a franchise cornerstone in Mathew Barzal.

Even though his point totals may have regressed in year two, the 22-year-old Barzal was the Islanders’ most dynamic and impactful player during the 2018-19 season and is on a trajectory that should take him to stardom in the NHL.

He has an incredible mix of speed, vision, and playmaking ability that makes him perfect for the modern game and a force to be reckoned with when he has the puck on his stick.

[MORE: 2018-19 Summary | Under Pressure | Three Questions]

He has already become one of the best and most productive playmakers in the league and could be on the verge of taking his production to an entirely new level based on what he has already done.

Two comparisons to consider for Barzal entering this season.

1.  Over the past two seasons (his first two in the league) he is one of just 11 forwards (minimum 100 games played) that has averaged at least 0.65 assists per game, 0.89 points per game, and posted a 52 percent Corsi rating. The others on that list are are Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Brad Marchand, Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Johnny Gaudreau, Mikko Rantanen, Artemi Panarin, and Mitch Marner.

Excellent company to be in, especially when you consider just how young he is and is just now entering his age 22 season.

2. It’s the latter point (his age) that is the key. Barzal is one of just 11 active forwards to average at least 0.89 points through their age 21 season in the NHL, a list that includes Crosby, Stamkos, Marner, Connor McDavid, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nicklas Backstrom, Auston Matthews, and Alex Ovechkin.

Marner, Matthews, and Barzal are all the same age, but the other eight combined to score at a 100-point pace in their age 22 season.

The biggest difference between Barzal and most of the players on that list is that he is not quite the goal-scorer that some of them are and is more known for his ability to drive play and set up his teammates, so a lot of his point production will be tied to what the players around him are able to do once he gets them the puck. He can definitely help put them in better positions to score, but it is still up to them to finish the play. It is also possible he could develop into more of a goal-scorer if he takes on more of a shoot-first mentality. He has never been a low-percentage shooter, and while passing and playmaking is his greatest strength offensively, he could probably put himself in a position to average more than two shots per game. Especially if he does not have elite talent around him at the given time.

No matter what direction he takes, Barzal is the Islanders’ best player and the one player that can swing a game in their favor.

His rapid development into a top-line player is one of the reasons the Islanders were able to overcome the free agent departure of John Tavares without completely falling apart. They already had a star on the roster ready to fill that No. 1 role, and his best days are still ahead of him.

This is the hardest type of player to acquire in a rebuild, and it usually takes a top draft pick to get one.

The Islanders were fortunate enough to be able to get one in the middle of the first-round and have the piece they need to build around.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.